What is the Pastor’s Real Calling?

real calling

“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”           2 Timothy 2:24-26

I didn’t like it when God opened my eyes to this passage. Matter of fact, these verses are tough to swallow. However, they are the job description of ministry. If we are going to be pastors, then we have to believe that Paul’s final letter to his “son” in the faith is very important.

The “Lord’s servant” (pastor) must not quarrel, argue, or fight with the people. The pastor must be kind. Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t like being the nice guy. But, in order to “teach” instruct His people in the Word, they must know that we care.

Sadly, when our hearts get poisoned with battles we get resentful. We resent our people, calling, and then God Himself for calling us to ministry. When battles come, we must remain gentle. After all, loving shepherds never beat their sheep.

We are not the Holy Spirit. Our anger towards them, or if we ignore them that is not going to cause them to truly repent. Repentance is something only God can “grant.”

Wow! No amount of hard preaching or clever anecdotes will bring them back to the throne of grace.

The real kicker is this, they don’t know they are caught in the trap of the devil. Satan has taken argumentative, quarrelsome people, captive. They are doing the will of the enemy and don’t even know it.

If we act in the flesh or act like the devil, they may never come back to the church or God. Our call is to rescue the perishing and care for the dying. Why? Finish the song. Jesus is merciful.

That’s it.

We are the ones that need to show mercy even if they attack us. We have to act like Jesus at His trial. He didn’t utter a word. Our glory is not His plan. His plan is for those blind to the enemy, to see Him.

It’s not easy, but that’s why He called you! 🙂

Keep Looking UP!

Pastor Rodney

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Do We Have Total Obedience?

obedience

“But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.” Matthew 3:15

The baptism of Jesus was an unusual event. We know John the Baptist knew he should have been baptized by Jesus. We know Jesus was baptized to show us we need to be baptized as a public sign of salvation, and to be obedient to God’s will.

We also know that Jesus was doing this to be totally obedient to the will of the Father. This was a picture of His humility.

The Bible tells us, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8

The Son of God showed us what total obedience looked like. It involves sacrificing our will and our rights to perform God’s will in whatever God wants in His kingdom.

If that means, we get walked on like a doormat today—so be it. If that means, we get hurt by brothers or sisters in Christ—Thank you, Lord. If that means, closing our mouths and not giving our opinion—Go, God!

Crazy?

Words like humility, sacrifice, and death are fading from our Christian vocabulary. The celebrity status some Christians enjoy and the rise of social media have taught us to toot our own horn.

We all have something to add to the kingdom but that might not be celebrity status. It might be to simply wake up today and die to our will, to “Take up our cross and follow Him.” There are many things Jesus has done for us and showed us but the biggest thing is dying to us.

Total obedience is saying, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Don’t forget to Pray!

Pastor Rodney 

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Mary’s Song

Have you ever thought about what would have been going through your mind had you been in Mary’s position when the angel appeared to her in Luke 1?

Have you ever thought about what would have been going through your mind had you been in Mary’s position when the angel appeared to her in Luke 1? Undoubtedly, she had a vision of her future home, her future family, and all of the possibilities that awaited her as she was getting ready to wed Joseph. We would most likely be safe in assuming that she was quite excited to raise children with the man she loved. However, we would also most likely be safe in assuming that part of her excitement hinged on their firstborn child arriving at a later date and arriving under ‘normal’ circumstances!

Suddenly, the angel jolted Mary out of her blissful daydreams, and she realized she was pregnant before marriage in a way that nobody would believe! This pregnancy was going to cause tongues to wag, well-meaning people to nag, and her energy level to drag.

Mary’s immediate response is the question, “How can this be?’  After the angel answers by assuring her this news is indeed all God’s plan and she is in the center of it, she again responds immediately. This time it is a statement:  “Let it be with me just as you say.” The Living Bible’s version of her mature reply is, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants. May everything you said come true.”

I am amazed by Mary’s answer to the angel. She trusts her Lord unwaveringly! And eight verses later, she proceeds to proudly praise the powerful presence and plans of her Lord to her cousin Elizabeth, and I am amazed again!

In some Bible versions, Luke 1:46-55 has a title such as, “The Song of Mary,” or something similar. It is peculiar because verse 46 starts off her “song” with the words, “Mary said,” and I cannot find a Bible that says differently. The words in those verses are so lyrical and so beautiful that they are considered to be a song, even though she did not sing them!

In those ten verses in Luke, Mary’s beautiful words have the potential to stop us in our tracks, especially if we take a moment to think about who spoke them and what her situation was. Mary’s spirit rejoiced in her Lord and her soul glorified Him at a time when she could have been throwing a self-pity party. When I am presented with unexpected circumstances, my natural reaction falls incredibly short of the reaction of a teenager who was given news that could be described as not just unexpected, but also earth-shattering and life-altering!

Friends, we can make the choice for our spirits to rejoice and our souls to glorify our Lord no matter what predicament we find ourselves in. Let us pray for a “Mary-like” trust; a trust that is immediate, unwavering and believes the Lord’s plan is the best plan.

Gwen Thielges

Visit Gwen @writewhereheleads.wordpress.com

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Where do your fears come from?

Where do your fears come from?

Fear attacks us in the areas God wants to use us. Your greatest fears are platforms to step out in faith that God has given you the power to overcome. Where you feel weak is opportunity to put the spotlight on God’s strength.

Godly fear is out of reverence and love. It’s a holy fear that says, “God Almighty, I see you on that throne and I trust you. I know your intentions for me are good.”

Satan will twist God’s good things — His word, His gifts, His work – around tormented thinking that makes you want to curl up in a corner. The devil wants you to entertain these thoughts in your mind and retreat. It’s a death trap for the serpent to coil more negative thoughts around that dream to suffocate the joy, the power and the freedom that God planted in His garden.

“God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.” 1 Timothy 1:7

You have the Holy Spirit inside you that gives you the ability to resist fear. There is power here in the name of Jesus to stand up in the middle of a storm and say, ‘No more! I refuse to believe the lies.’

You have the power to welcome fear or resist it. You have the power to let peace in or let fear rule.

The enemy’s cunning device of fear is only a smoke screen. Satan uses fear to steal the life out of your dreams. This fear will convince you out of insecurity to give up the gifts God gave you. We might trade in God’s big things that require a leap of faith for a false sense of security in the ‘safe’ stuff we can see.

Fear from the gates of hell will force you to act fast. Fear is hasty. God’s fruit of patience knows how to wait.

The thief uses a heavy and oppressive fear to torment you, paralyze you and prevent you from moving forward in God. The devil uses fear as bondage. Our Savior came to bring us freedom.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived the things that God has planned for you. The Lord Almighty is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you could ask and think.

Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid. (John 14:1)

Holy fear gives you this ability to be courageous despite all you’re facing. Holy fear knows our Creator, Almighty God, is good and in His image, He intends good things for His children.

Fear says we’re alone. The gift of God is His Truth. Your Heavenly Father has never left your side. In Jesus, there is freedom, power, love and a sound mind.

Where is God calling you to step out in faith in this freedom of His power, love and peace? Where do you need to shut off the feelings of fear, the consuming thoughts of doubt and confusion and surrender to trust in Him?

Trisha Keehn

Read more from Trisha @ trishakeehn.com

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Dear Christian, Are You Thinking Clearly?

thinking right

We don’t always think like we should. Thinking right involves knowing the truth about ourselves and acting on it.

Especially today.

The climate of America is negative. Negative, critical people, flood social media and the Media in general. We are being told how to think.

When the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 8 He had already told us about salvation and being filled with the Spirit. He even explained our battle with sin in Romans 7.

But listen to what he writes near the end of Romans 8:

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Romans 8:32-34

If I am going to think right about myself and others, then I need to see how God answers three critical questions:

1. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

God sent His Son Jesus Christ, delivered Him for us what would God ever hold back from us?

When you get the best Christmas present ever and realize you have all these other presents to open. Do you stop and say, “No thanks this is all I need?”

Of course not!

The giver (God) gave His Son (the best gift ever) first! Jesus is all we need but we get Jesus plus every other blessing!

2. Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?

God sent Jesus to do for us what we could not do. Because of Jesus death on the cross of Calvary the payment for sin, justification has been settled. Whenever the enemy tries to remind you of all your faults and failures just show him the Cross.

God is not keeping a record of sin against you believer. You have trusted Jesus and no one can charge you with wrong doing. Even your own mind!

3. Who is to condemn?

We allow the enemy and people to condemn us. We allow the enemy to put those condemning thoughts into our heads and get used like a sparring partner for Apollo Creed.

The truth is when the enemy or anyone, even ourselves, let condemnation words like: you failure, you loser, you’ll never win, I always blow it, whenever those thoughts come in, or get directed at others, we must understand we are not the ones who justify or condemn anybody.

God is for you. The Bible is clear on that. You can trust Him. Thinking right about God, others, and ourselves drives us in the right direction.

In a world filled with so much negative super stars we need to think clearly to shine. Tell the Good News of Jesus. You have already won!

Let’s start thinking about that!

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Roaring Lions and Yellow Jackets

Roaring Lions and Yellow Jackets // Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

 

Be self-controlled and alert.

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion

looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV

 

The front porch of my log home, with a comfy swing and view of the mountains, has been my peaceful place and safe haven for over thirty years … at least until last summer when I had a run-in with some crazy yellow jackets.

My plan was to sit on the porch while one of my granddaughters rode her bike in the driveway. Seems the nasty varmints had a different plan. As I started to ease myself down onto the swing, they attacked—my foot, ankle, and all up the back of my left leg. It felt like a thousand needles being shot into my skin, and the pain was excruciating.  I went running into the house crying like a two-year-old while my granddaughter watched, wide-eyed and powerless to help Grandma.

Talk about a way to ruin a beautiful Saturday afternoon …

After Benadryl and a host of home remedies, my foot and leg were so swollen the next morning, a visit to the doctor was the first thing on my agenda. That was followed by prednisone, ice packs, ace bandage, ibuprofen, and a whole lot of pain.

So, why am I telling you this? As a friend once pointed out to me, sometimes the Enemy attacks us even in our “safe” place … when we least expect it. We can become so comfortable that we drop our defenses and forget to watch for harmful situations, both in the natural realm and the spiritual realm.

The Bible tells us to be self-controlled and alert because he (the Enemy) prowls around like a roaring lion (or in my case, a nest full of yellow jackets) looking for someone to devour. I love the way the Message translation puts it: Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.  Keep your guard up.

 How do we keep our guard up? By drawing close to the Lord and allowing His Spirit to lead and guide us throughout our days. By staying in constant communion and fellowship with Him. And by filling our minds and hearts with His Word.

Even though my husband sprayed the porch and knocked down fifteen nests (yes, FIFTEEN … three of them underneath the swing), my safe place doesn’t feel so safe anymore. Going outside has given me a slight case of paranoia, which I will get over eventually. In the meantime, I will be reminded to stay alert, keep my guard up, and trust in the Lord to keep me from harm.

Andrea Merrell

Read more from Andrea at: www.andreamerrell.com

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2 Ways to be Thankful Everyday

Be thankful

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

How can we take each day and be thankful for it? When bills have to be paid, errands have to be run, kids need our attention, and life is constantly wearing us down—how can we be thankful?

I propose it’s by doing two simple steps. A spirit of thanksgiving is born out of what we do daily. These two steps determine how great our lives will be. Here is the first one:

1. Do the “Little” Things:

Because of erosion, the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was in peril of washing into the Atlantic Ocean. So Congress appropriated $12 million for the National Park service to move it 2,900 feet to safety.

With a combination of care, expertise, patience, and raw power, The Expert House Movers of Sharptown, Maryland moved the 208 foot tall, 9.7 million pound structure to its current home.

The option of moving the lighthouse was first proposed in April of 1982, but the light wasn’t lit at its new location until November 13, 1999. Seventeen years of study and twenty-three days of moving later.

Why did it take so long? Small things can be moved quickly, but big things take time.

Most people tend to overestimate what they can do in a week and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime. We tend to want to make the biggest splash rather than just doing the right thing.

Do something like help our neighbor. Bake a friend a cake. Bring flowers home to your wife (not a special occasion). Help a coworker, or meet a need for a family at church.

If we don’t do those things then daily erosion sets in. Attitudes become cynical and critical of what “others” should be doing.

2. Focus on Today:

Jesus told us in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

The best basketball coach ever, in my opinion, was John Wooden of the UCLA Bruins. He coached basketball for over forty years and only had one losing season his first. He led UCLA to four undefeated seasons and a record ten NCAA championships including seven in a row. No one has done that since.

Listen to what Coach Wooden writes, “When I was teaching basketball, I urged my players to try their hardest to improve on that very day, to make that practice a masterpiece. Too often we get distracted by what is outside our control. You can’t do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece.”

We can’t change the past. Yesterday is gone. We also can’t do a thing about tomorrow other than plan. We live in today. Make today matter.

Who can I be kind to today? Every person I talk to needs my attention. Does watching the same news over and over really make my day count?

Spend your morning in prayer. Read your Bible. Read a good blog post (hopefully this one). Live in the moment.

To quote William Wallace in Braveheart, “All men die few men really live.”

A daily thankful heart will create a life that God will bless.

Be thankful today and everyday. Remember the best is yet to come.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Do You Know Your Heart’s Desire?

Heart Sculpture

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

What is it you want most in your life? What is it that makes you tick? What’s your heart’s desire?

The word for our spiritual heart here refers to the whole personality— not just the thought life but The Real You. God knows the heart, and He knows the real us even when we don’t know our own hearts.

See we may not know what we really want.

Kenneth Taylor worked for Moody Press. He and his wife did family devotions with their children. The kids couldn’t understand the KJV Bible. So daddy translated the KJV into what we now call The Living Bible.

All because a dad’s desire was that his kids could understand God’s Word.

A brave move translating the Bible don’t you think? When I think of daring, I think of the prayer Jabez made. Jammed into a series of so and so who begat so and so we find,

“He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!’ And God granted him his request.” 1 Chronicles 4:10 (NLT)

Why don’t you do the same thing? Too bold? Too daring maybe too presumptuous to ask such a thing from God? Then let me ask you a question: Is this verse true for everyone? Or just everyone else?

What is your heart’s desire?

William Tyndale stood against the Corrupt church of the early 1500s. His heart’s desire was to print the Bible in English. The church didn’t want the Bible to be understandable by the common man and even thought this to be heresy.

Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake. His last words were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”

He died October 6, 1536. Three years later the king of England had an English Bible printed. If not for William Tyndale we wouldn’t have a Bible in English.

434 years later a dad wanted his children to understand the Bible during their devotions. He translated the New Testament and Billy Graham started giving them away at his crusades. Thousands were being distributed.

Then in 1971 the entire Living Bible was printed by the new publishing house founded by daddy Kenneth Taylor. The Publishing house is called Tyndale.

Millions of Christian books have been published because a man had in his heart to translate the Bible so his kids could learn God’s Word.

God cares about what you care about. He has a plan and purpose for you. It is a powerful plan that steps us out of our little comfortable corners and into Jabez sized blessings.

Words like bold, brave, courageous, daring, gallant, heroic, and noble, should describe our hearts.

What is your heart’s desire? To help your children read the Bible? He may call you to start a publishing house.

What’s your heart’s desire? It’s not bigger than God’s desire for you.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Recounting His Graces

Recounting His Graces: http://liftupyourday.com/2016/08/02/recounting-his-graces/

I struggle with spiritual memory loss.

When anxiety and fear strikes, I clench my hands and hold on tight as I let fear and anxiety take me on the ride of my life, a ride that nearly kills me (2 Timothy 1:7). In these times, I find myself asking questions I already know the answer to but because fear is the driver, I suffer from spiritual memory loss and begin to question:

 Is God good?

But what if…?

I fear what He will allow next.

Can I really rest in Him?

If I’m being honest, these are questions I wrestle with often. I know what the right answer is because I know what God’s word says. The problem isn’t in the believing but in the trusting and then being obedient in the trusting. God is good. I believe it, I’ve seen it but do I still believe God is good if … Someone once asked a simple yet impactful question, “doesn’t a believer have to believe?” Uh, yes. That’s a no-brainer answer but then I ask myself do I really believe God is good in the ugly, painful, gut-wrenching…

diagnosis

death of a child

death of a parent(s)

loss of a job

loss of ability

loss of success

car accident that takes the life of a spouse

child drowning in a pool while playing at his grandparents

30 something mom diagnosed with breast cancer

mother having to deliver a stillborn baby

If God is good all of the time, doesn’t he have to be good even during these times (Romans 8:28)?

Doesn’t a believer have to believe? I see God’s goodness and grace all over the place but can I see it in these moments? I don’t know I want to. I don’t want to see His goodness in the gut-wrenching seasons of life. How do I find grace in darkness, in pain? How do I see God’s goodness when nothing seems good?

I don’t know so I recount His past goodness. I’m reluctant; I feel pain and don’t want to see His goodness in my pain, in other’s pain. There it is, my pride.

Why do I do this? Am I too proud to remember His goodness? Am I too scared counting His goodness would minimize my pain, others pain? Does it even matter why? Shouldn’t my position just be to just trust and obey (Isaiah 50:10)?

I love what Ann Voskamp says in her book, One Thousand Gifts, “Trauma’s storm can mask the Christ and feelings can lie. I draw all the hurting voices close and I touch their scars with a whisper: sometimes we don’t fully see that in Christ, because of Christ, through Christ, He does give us all things good – until we have the perspective of years.”

I must recount His graces to peel away the many layers of unbelief, to recover from spiritual memory loss.

Recounting His graces is accepting His good gifts and thanking Him for them (Psalm 107:1). So I sit, I stare at the paper with pen in hand to start recounting some of His graces in my life. I’m reluctant because my pride runs deep, my friends. I don’t want to write. I suppose this is where faith and trust come in and trump my feelings.

Here I go…

In my unbelief, I begin writing and recounting. My heart begins to soften and tears begin to puddle at my eyes and  begin to stream down my face because I do see His grace, His goodness. I’m undone from my fear and my pride. There is nothing and no one that can soften a hard heart like God can (1 Samuel 10:9). This is new to me, this recounting His goodness in the face of my fears and anxieties. I still proceed with caution even though I know I can throw all caution to the wind with the Lord. You see, I’m still just learning that He is good and He is trustworthy and I can rest in Him. I learn by recounting His graces.

“Every time fear freezes and worry writhes, every time I surrender to stress, aren’t I advertising the unreliability of God? That I really don’t believe? But if I’m grateful to the Bridge Builder for the crossing of a million strong bridges, thankful for a million faithful moments, my life speaks my beliefs and I trust Him again.”  –Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Maria Bowersock

Read more from Maria @www.awomannamedfree.com

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Go Make Ripples in the Name of Jesus

Go Make Ripples in the Name of Jesus. By Carol Round | liftupyourday.com

“I am with you. I will watch over you everywhere you go”—Genesis 28:15(NIRV).

Almost 11 years ago, I took a giant leap of faith. I left a northeastern Oklahoma community where I’d lived since 1969—except for the times I’d gone away to college—to move to a larger town about 70 miles west. I left behind family and friendships formed over a 36-year period to a place where I knew very few people.

However, during the time I’ve lived in Rogers County, I’ve been blessed with a multitude of friends. Those friends have encouraged me, laughed and cried with me, prayed with and for me and stood by me during times of trouble. Even more importantly, being here has helped my faith grow. Through my church family and the people of faith God has placed in my path, my spiritual eyes have been opened to embrace what God can do in our lives when we place our trust in Him.

I like what best-selling author and minister, Norman Vincent Peale said about faith: “Faith is the most powerful of all forces operating in humanity and when you have it in depth nothing can get you down.”

However, it wasn’t always that way for me. I’d only been in Claremore about a year when I yearned to return home. Prayer and the advice of wise individuals revealed to me I was here for a reason. Soon, I came to call this place home. I had no desire to return.

About two years ago, God began working in me through a variety of ways. I knew He had plans for me to move. I just wasn’t sure where. Through reading scripture, praying daily, hearing the testimony of others and listening to my pastor’s sermons, I explored my options. Then, a very powerful dream last November affirmed I needed to return home.

While I will miss my church family and the friendships I’ve formed, I’m excited about the new adventure God has in store for me. I will continue to write this column. I am clarifying because so many people have asked.

What does God ask of us? When Jesus was asked which commandment of the Law was the greatest, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

What God wants from His children is really quite simple: He wants us. He wants our hearts, and all of our service for Him must flow from these two commands to love.

A recent devotional I read said, “The Word of God spreads out like ripples of water.”

If you’ve ever thrown a stone into a body of water, you know what happens. A ripple occurs. I want to be a part of that ripple effect. Wherever I go, my faith will lead me to share the Good News.

My challenge to you is to “go make ripples in the name of Jesus.”

Carol Round

Need a speaker or workshop leader? Check out www.carolaround.com.

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